Wright v. Stanton

Posted on August 15, 2013 | Type: Case
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What happened to bring about this challenge?

In May 2013, the Goldwater Institute sent a letter to the City of Phoenix asking it to end its illegal policy of allowing senior police personnel to increase the amount of their pensions by cashing in unused sick leave, vacation, and other benefits. This practice of "pension spiking" violates state law. The city's refusal to end this policy is an affront to the rule of law and the Goldwater Institute is representing Phoenix taxpayers to stop this abusive practice.

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Last step: Victory! Phoenix removes pension spiking provisions from public safety contracts effective July 1, 2014


Who is the client?

Phoenix taxpayers Jennifer Wright, Eric Wnuck, and Jim Jochim. 

Who is the judge?

The Honorable John Rea

What are the key issues?

This challenge will stop the city of Phoenix from violating state law. The city of Phoenix currently allows the abusive practice of retiring employees being able to "cash in" unused sick leave, vacation leave, overtime pay and other benefits for salary in the years leading up to retirement, thereby inflating the final salary used to calculate pension benefits. The result is hundreds of million in increased costs to Phoenix taxpayers. Under Arizona law, public employees are prohibited from using "unused sick leave, payment in lieu of vacation, payment for unused compensatory time or payment for any fringe benefits" to increase compensation for pension purposes. 

Case Documents

Complaint (8/15/2013)
Amended Complaint (10/8/2013)
Response to Phoenix's Motion to Dismiss (10/10/2013)
Response to PPSLA's Motion to Dismiss (10/10/2013)
Response to Local Phoenix Pension Board's Motion to Dismiss (10/27/2013)
Response to PSPRS's Motion to Dismiss (10/27/2013)
Order Denying Defendants' Motions to Dismiss (1/30/2014)
Application for Preliminary Injunction (4/3/2014)

Media Coverage

Arizona Republic: Goldwater files suit to stop Phoenix pension 'spiking' (8/15/2013) 
Arizona Daily Star: Selling sick leave nets millions for top Tucson police, fire officers (4/6/2014)
Arizona Republic: Phoenix ends pension spiking for police officers, firefighters (5/27/2014)
Arizona Republic: Pension-spiking suit against Phoenix dropped (6/30/2014)

The Legal Team

Clint Bolick is the Goldwater Institute’s litigation director. He has extensive success before trial judges and appellate courts. He has won two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. He was named as a Lawyer of the Year in 2003 by American Lawyer magazine.

Jon Riches is an attorney at the Goldwater Institute's Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation. Prior to joining the Goldwater Institute, Jon served on active duty in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps, where he litigated dozens of Court-Martial cases and advised commanders on vast array of legal issues.


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